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  • Stuart McDonald

Can you vary police and court bail conditions?

Pre-Charge Bail

It is possible to seek a variation of pre-charge bail conditions: the first step is to contact the Officer dealing with the case. If they are agreeable then a Custody Sergeant may make the variation.

If the Officer in the Case does not agree to the proposed change(s) the next step is to apply to a Custody Sergeant. S/he will consider what is said both on behalf of the suspect and the investigating officer before making a decision. The police will normally require that a request is in writing. It should be noted that the Sergeant has the power to impose more stringent bail conditions.

It is also possible to apply to the Magistrates’ Court to vary bail conditions in such cases. The Court can vary or even remove the conditions. Such applications are not covered by the Legal Aid Advice and Assistance scheme; it will be necessary to pay privately for legal representation in such cases.

If a person has been charged, any application to vary bail conditions must go before the Magistrates’ Court.

Court Bail

An application to vary bail conditions must be made to the Court which is dealing with the case. A specific form needs to be completed and sent to the Court and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

The CPS are entitled to 5 working days’ notice to consider their response. In that time they will consult with the Officer in the Case and, if necessary, complainants and witnesses who may be affected by the proposed variation.

In the Magistrates’ Court the case will be listed for the application to be made before a District Judge or Bench; in the Crown Court the CPS will be asked to indicate whether there is any opposition – if there is none, the Judge can deal with the case “administratively” but if they do oppose (or they do not respond, which does something happen) then the case will be listed for a formal hearing.

If the application is refused, then a further application will only be considered if it can be show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances which justifies a re-consideration.

It may be possible to appeal to a High Court Judge if the application to vary bail is refused but this is complex and can be very expensive (unless Legal Aid is granted – a whole new application is required); this is only possible in relation to cases before the Magistrates’ Court as the High Court does not have jurisdiction in matters relating to trial on indictment.

Legal disclaimer: Articles are intended as an introduction to the topic and do not constitute legal advice. The information contained herein is accurate at the date of publication but please note that the law is ever changing and evolving. If you require advice in relation to any matter raised in this article please contact a member of the team.


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